Madison’s First Phone

Obviously, this rite of passage happened sooner than Lynnette and I planned. Madison slept over at my parents’ house last night on a whim, and she’s got to stay after school later this week for a science team tryout. She’s also gone out with some of her friends’ families on the weekend. There are work arounds that would/could have precluded this bold step, but none of them were as convenient as just getting Madison her own phone, already. OK, maybe I was also tired of fighting the inevitable.

img_8346Is it the smart phone she’s been badgering us about since she figured out how to use an iPad? No, thank God. But as you can tell by her wry smile here, she was happy just to get a phone to call her own. She’s 10 and she’s got her very own flip phone and if she somehow gets a smart phone at any point in the next decade, then she’ll outpace my father who used a non-smart phone for his first 6 or so two-year contracts with Sprint. Incredible.

She’s spent the afternoon acquainting herself with the phone and has already taken to it quicker than I could have ever imagined:

img_8383That first exchange came when her phone was first activated. She beamed from ear to ear the first time Lynnette called her phone and they had a 30-second conversation while they were about 5 feet away from each other.

As we drove home from our errands, I was in the passenger seat whispering sweet somethings into Lynnette’s ear and rubbing her right shoulder. That’s when Madison texted me from the back seat at 12:58. I laughed out loud when I read it. “Dummy.” I said. “Don’t call my daughter ‘dummy’,” Lynnette said. When we came to a red light, I showed Lynnette the message and she scoffed and said “dummy.” Madison cackled in the backseat and the sound of her evil laughter sent me adrift into thoughts of what exactly have I done?

And then, finally, as we watched Pitch Perfect 2, she messaged me to remind me that the fateful scene with the Green Bay Packers – the scene which ended her support of the Dallas Cowboys – was up next. It was then that I knew exactly what I had done: given a troll another way to get to me.

Lynnette posted about Mad’s big step on Facebook and the comments rolled in. Here are some of the best, followed by my response.

“Good luck!” -Lynie, Lynnette’s sister.
Sigh.

“She’s growing up!!!” -Corrie, my cousin.
Sigh.

“Whyyyyyyyy!?!” -Paul, my brother
It’s human nature.

“Hello Madison. Call or text Papa.” -Lynnette’s dad
Thanks for the support?

“Does she want Jeremiah’s number?” -Chris, my friend, referring to his son
We can’t be friends anymore.

“Oh wow! We’re trying to hold off as long as we can with our daughter. BUT, like you guys, might be sooner rather than later.” -Hazel, Lynnette’s friend
Good luck to you.

“OMG” – Jane, my friend
FML.

“Look forward to texting her!” Chelsea, Lynnette’s cousin
Geez.

img_8379I have no idea if Madison is ready for a phone or any of the many added responsibilities the next few years will bring, but the only way were ever find out anything is by trying. Like everything else, I suppose there will be some growing pains and like always, we’ll push through them. For now, we’ll see if she can go without losing it or letting Cole and/or Avery get their sticky hands on it for the first week.

I don’t know. I look at this picture – the phone, the jewelry, the nail polish, and the smirk – and I know she’s growing up. We can’t fight it, so I figure it’s best to support it. Personally, the troll in me – the same one that’s taught Mad so well in the dark/dork arts – can’t wait for her to figure out that we’ve bought her a very long leash masquerading as a phone. She ought to get a real kick out of that one.

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38 & 10

IMG_8185IMG_8194IMG_8202Though I am pretty sure Lynnette had ulterior motives – urged on perhaps, by her tongue and stomach – my lovely wife was adamant about taking Madison and me out for dinner on Saturday night. We dropped of the twins at Aunty Joy and Uncle Reyn’s before heading out to The Buffet at the Hyatt. The newish buffet checks all of my boxes: prime rib, king crab legs, and sushi and sashimi. They also feature a 25% Kamaaina discount, so there was a lot to like.

It was wonderful to celebrate with Mad and Lynnette without Cole and Avery doing 2-year old type things. It allowed me to focus on seeing how much sushi, sashimi, and crab I could fit into my body. Madison got dressed up, got a hair cut, and got her hair done up by Lynnette. If that wasn’t enough for the my self-proclaimed “tweenager”, the array of desserts put her over the top. “Man, your doctor’s gonna be mad at you,” she said as she watched me fill my small bowl with soft-serve ice cream. The kid know too damn much.

I made the tactical error of not preparing my appetite for the buffet beforehand. For over a week, Lynnette implored Madison and me to tell her where we wanted to eat, but Madison always replied “I don’t know” (she really is a tweenager!) and I had other things occupying my mind space. We didn’t decide where to eat until the afternoon, and by then I had already eaten a normal lunch. Just poor planning on my part. Next time.

Thank you, Lynnette and Madison, for a great evening. It was a nice, if momentary, throwback to the Era of Peace. Thank you, Uncle Reyn and Aunty Joy for volunteering to watch the twins. That’s twice without tears! I think Cole and Avery really like you guys!

IMG_8229IMG_8240I wrote at the start of this year that I hoped my relationship with Madison would improve, and in truth, it hasn’t gotten noticeably better. Sadly, it currently reminds me of the adversarial relationship I had with my mom during my own youth. Like my mom and me, Madison and I are alike in all the worst ways. We’re stubborn. We have our own ideas about things that don’t align. We just want to be left alone even though we both know we’re not going to be left alone.

It’s a weird time. Mad’s growing and has ideas and interest of her own that don’t intersect with mine. She’s talking about starting a YouTube channel and at the same time (probably because of the dominance of the twins in our lives), she seems mired in childish activities. I yearn for simplicity and Madison often behaves in ways that appear in direct opposition to that hope. I hate, hate, hate the way we often speak to each other in tones of anger and exasperation.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable, fair man. I like to think that I am flexible and even-keeled, but Madison tests all of those self-held beliefs. It seems so far away, now, but she was my best friend. My sidekick and partner in crime. Time and circumstance have pulled us apart and despite my best efforts, I am no closer to a solution. Or her.

Today, I am more terrified than ever that I am going to lose her. When I blew out my candle today, I didn’t wish for a Mets win (which I often do). I didn’t wish for AJ Styles to retain the WWE championship (guys, I know it’s not real). I wished for something to pull us back together. As frustrating and draining as our relationship often is, I refuse to give up hope. She’s the best birthday gift I ever received, and every year on this day, I am reminded of that simple fact.

Madison,
If you are reading this, I don’t know how or why we fell apart this way. And maybe you think that I have an answer for everything but I don’t have answer for us. I am trying. I really am. All I can tell you is that I love you so much, and that I will never ever give up on you. Happy birthday, Goobi.

Love,
Dads

The Great Laundry Fiasco of 2018

A few weeks ago, our washing machine malfunctioned. Again. In the 10 years during which it’s done our dirty work, we’ve had to have the electronic board serviced twice. This last time seemed a good at time as any to replace the set. We got a Samsung set from Best Buy on Good Friday and when they arrived I was so excited to play with my new toys (because in one’s late 30s, appliances count as toys) that I forgot to take a picture of the old washer and dryer.

IMG_7957Before we went out to Best Buy, I measured both the height and width of the machines in our laundry closet. I didn’t measure the depth because I couldn’t get in there. You probably know where this is going by now: 1) The set was too deep, and 2) I’m an idiot.

As the installer took the old set from the closet, he looked at the dryer vent in the back of the closet. “You’re not going to be able to close your door,” he said. “What?” I said. “The Samsungs. They’re too long. They kind of bubble out in the front.” He whipped out his tape measure. “They’ll be sticking out the door this much,” he said, holding his hands about 5 inches apart. So the good news is: I have a new computer room. But yeah, that’s kind of outweighed by the fact that we don’t have a washer and dryer.

IMG_7959So, for the last three weekends, Lynnette has taken the laundry and kids to her parents’ house. This afforded me key work time which came in incredibly clutch during last week’s essay crunch at the end of Spring Break.

This past Saturday afternoon, we loaded up the van with our laundry and the Instant Pot and took everything to Mama and Papa’s house. We condensed everything into 3 loads and Lynnette made dinner for all of us while we waited for the clothes to wash then dry. Cole and Avery love this, of course. They enjoy running around both inside and outside of the house. I took Cole on a nighttime walk around the neighborhood to track down one of his favorite yellow hydrants.

IMG_7962The thin silver lining is that our dryer found a new home at Mama and Papa’s house. Their old dryer quit on them, so we were able to replace it. It’ll be nice to see him from time to time. We never had a problem with it. It will get the sendoff it deserves at the end of this entry.

Lynnette and I ordered a new set – the shallowest pair we could find – and they’re scheduled to arrive on the 10th. I really hope they work out because the next best option is buying a set that’s way too small for our family’s laundry needs. We’ll end up doing 10 loads every weekend and we might also get divorced. By the way, no, our dining room chairs haven’t come in yet.

Washer, Dryer…

The End of a Pretty Amazing Spring Break 2018

The weather gods have the same sick sense of humor that pervades rest of the universe. After a week of gray skies and rain that ranged somewhere between an inconvenience and a total bummer, the last two days were straight gorgeous. We took advantage of the resurgent sun today and hit the pool.

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No one was happier about our decision to head to the pool than the reigning Chlorine Queen herself. Lynnette had the day off and Madison took full advantage of her favorite familial ratio of one adult to one twin. She helped the twins into the kiddie pool then quickly disappeared into the big pool for some alone time. Man, Mad and I used to do this all the time during the breaks, and I miss how easy it used to be to spend hours at one of the rec center pools. She filmed some video of herself swimming and jumping into the pool because she’s recently talked about started her own YouTube channel. I don’t even know where to begin with such an enterprise, but she does, apparently. “Well, I do have some experience editing videos, just to let you know,” she said matter-of-factly when I expressed my doubts about her newest ambition.

DCIM100GOPROG0288531.

Cole also enjoyed the pool. If he had the capacity to rank his activities, I think he’d give you the following list:

  1. Jumping from the edge of the pool into my arms.
  2. Floating on his back and being gently guided into the lane dividers as I uttered “doink!”
  3. Walking up and down the stairs leading into the pool.

He spent the entire time at the pool doing one of these three things but the funniest thing he did all day was deny that he wanted out of the pool. When it became clear that he was cold, even in the heated pool, I intermittently asked him if he was done. “N-n-n-o-o-o!” he’d reply through chattering teeth. Still, he didn’t seem too broken up when Lynnette took him to shower and he got to inhale some “chicken crackahz” on a bench. Avery on the other hand…

DCIM100GOPROG0118023.

It’s become clear that Avery loves the water with a passion that Cole can muster for maybe 5 minutes. As soon as she got into the kiddie pool, she wandered away from the rest of us and squealed with delight as he splashed water into her own face. She totally ignored my requests to sit with me. When we got into the big pool she too enjoyed falling off of the ledge into Lynnette’s waiting arms. She no longer gets rattled when her face accidentally falls below the water level. She rises and gasps and laughs – like the whole ordeal was worth the adrenaline rush. Well, of course it was. That’s who she is. So when it came time for her to shower, she put up a huge fight. Cole and I sat on the bench and he put his hand up to his ear. “Hear A-bree,” he said. “Yeah, I hear her, too,” I said. When Lynnette and Avery finally emerged from the bathroom, a dry, clean Avery kept trying to work her way back into the water. Only the promise of “chicken crackah” got her off her watery ambitions.


The three kids and I did as much as we could this break considering the degree of difficulty added by the lackluster weather. In spending so much time with the twins, I learned a few new things about them and myself.

My frustrations with the twins are no secret, particularly in the way they’ve affected my professional life. This break made me realize the core of the problem (that is obvious, but kind of hard to avoid) and that it can be improved but probably only in fits and starts. I figured out that if I spend all day with the twins, I actually enjoy it – as long there’s nothing else I have to do. I had something like 95 essays to grade over the break and I probably spent like 30 or so hours total reading them. But I could do that late into the night over this break in a way that I can’t during the work week (you know, because I have to get up and go to work). But this allowed me to split my day into two distinct parts: my kids and my work. I never felt the frustration of the twins keeping me from work during the day because I knew I had 4-5 hours to work while they were sleeping. At night, I never felt like I was missing anything because they were asleep and I knew that even if I fell asleep at 12, I’d have about 6 hours to sleep and I had a chance to work a nap in later in the day if I really needed one.

This compartmentalization actually made my break enjoyable. I wasn’t with the kids and thinking about work and vice versa. It allowed me to be present with them in a way that’s difficult for me during the regular work schedule.

Did you know that Avery’s kind of learned to count? I mean she has no idea what the actual numbers mean, but if you shout “ONE!” at her, she’ll respond and alternate numbers with you until 10. And, if you whisper, then she’ll whisper the numbers, too.

Did you know that Cole has started to speak in full sentences? Well, sort of. “[S]nack, please!” he’ll say. “Would you like goldfish?” I might ask. He’ll nod an walk to the pantry before saying “In a bowl.” This guy.

Did you know that Avery’s banging of cabinets has dramatically decreased in the last two weeks (FINGERS CROSSED THAT I DIDN’T JUST JINX IT, YOU GUYS)?

Did you know that Cole actually knows how to say Madison’s full name? We found out this week when he repeatedly asked Madison to put his favorite DVD in but big sister ignored him. “Mad-Mad, Countdown. Mad-Mad, Countdown!” he said over and over. His pleas went unheard until he finally unleashed a “MAD-I-SEEEEEEN!” That stopped Mad and I in our tracks. First we laughed. “You better put his DVD in,” I said. “For real,” Mad replied.

The reason I ask is because I didn’t know these things either. I had never really had the chance to observe them, play with them, talk with them in a setting where time wasn’t really an issue. But I did this break. And these are just some of the things I’ve witnessed going on with the twins. And so despite the weather, I am grateful for this past week I spent with Cole and Avery. And MAD-I-SEEEEEEN too.

Mem-less Beach Outing

img_7786So yesterday we gave it a shot. I took the three kids to the beach without Lynnette and it wasn’t a fiasco. It was merely a mitigated disaster. First, like so many Spring Breaks past, the weather gods simply aren’t cooperating. While it hasn’t rained, it’s been overcast and windy. Every once in a while, the sun feels warm on the skin, but for the most part, these aren’t optimal beach conditions. The twins are cool as long as they don’t get too wet, but Avery decided she was going to get very wet. As a result, about 15 minutes into our adventure, she started screaming and shaking like the Ultimate Warrior in his ’80s heyday. Cole knew better and kicked it in the sand. We spent maybe 30 minutes at the beach before I called it. And this is where things fell apart.

Getting the twins to the water isn’t the problem; getting them to the shower, back into the van, and changed is. Without Lynnette, this is a complex logic problem. It’s like that riddle where you have a fox, a chicken and a thing of corn. The fox will eat the chicken, the chicken will eat the corn, and you have to get all three of them across this river but with the catch that you can only take one of the three across at a time. Look, I don’t know what the answer is, okay? What I know is that trying to get Cole and Avery on the same page is difficult if one or both of them are hellbent on staying at the beach. “Let’s go back to the van for milk and snacks!” is my go-to move and it usually works, but damn it, Avery really loves the beach.

So I got all three kids to the shower, took Avery to the van and dressed her, strapped her into her seat, then came back for Cole. Once Madison showered, I had her return to the van to cruise with Gravy. I showered Cole, then took him back to change him. Thank God for the L&L at the beach. I picked up a saimin for Mad and a loco moco for me that we both shared with the twins.

img_7789img_7793Avery was delighted to share the loco moco with me and Cole wolfed down the noodles Madison shared with him. They both fell asleep on the ride home with containers of food in their laps. That’s the real upside of taking them to the beach: it knocks them out. But I don’t think I’ll be doing this again anytime soon. It’s too difficult. And somehow it was less traumatic than a simple trip to the grocery store today. Cole fell down and started crying. When Cole cries, Avery goes nuclear in a weird bout of sympathy crying. So I stood there in the meat aisle of Times holding both of them in my arms. I got a mix of empathetic and irritated looks – which is totally fine because that’s pretty much my life.

We’ve got another adventure lined up tomorrow. Madison’s going to go out with a friend and her mother. I’ll be dropping the twins off with aunty Joy and uncle Reynold because they’ll be babysitting the twins in April. I don’t know how they’ll do without Madison and me. I suspect it might not go so smoothly, so I’ll be nearby grading essays. But just like the whole Lynnette-less beach excursion, you never know unless you try. Do me a favor and cross your fingers and hold your breath for us tomorrow. Thanks in advance.

Spring Break 2018: Back at the Beach!

1Our original Sunday plan centered on a leisurely drive to Kailua. A quick check of my weather app suggested it might be raining there and a student confirmed it over Twitter. We made a quick adjustment and headed out to Yokohama Bay instead because when does it ever rain out there, right? Today. It rained today.

We took a few detours on the way to the beach. I hoped to find a new playground but had so such luck. We made a quick stop at Makaha District Park, but the structure was very similar to one we’ve already been to. It was almost 10 when we parked the fan at 3rd Dips, the section of the beach fronted by a large reef and consequently perfect for the twins. A fine mist steadily descended off the mountains and we chilled in the van for almost an hour in hopes that the weather gods would clear it up. They didn’t. They gave us that amazing rainbow instead. Not a fan of the trade-off.

 

DCIM102GOPROG1096985.Eventually, Lynnette said we may as well just get out of the van and into the water for as long as we could since we had driven out all that way. It was decent logic, but she meant that the rest of us should get into the water. She just colored her hair yesterday and so she spent most of the time at the beach protecting her beautiful new locks. The rest of us didn’t mind, though, as the drizzle didn’t bother us too much. The sun glowed through the haze and the shallow water was warm enough for the twins to avoid hypothermia for at least 20 minutes.

DCIM103GOPROG1287547.Madison brought the small hand net and trolled the shallows for small fish. She caught 11 of them before we decided to go. It’s kind of impressive to watch. She has no real athletic ability or reasoning behind her tactics. She just trails a fish until it’s within her arm’s reach, then wildly slams the net into the water, sometimes with a Monica Seles grunt. Then she looks in the net and expresses surprise every time she catches a tiny fish. That makes two of us, Mad.

DCIM102GOPROG1147125.DCIM102GOPROG1127063.Cole and Avery didn’t appear to be affected by the weather at all, at least initially. Since Lynnette decided she wasn’t getting into the water, she was all-time cameraman. Cole’s pretty good by himself, but sometimes he gets more excited than brave and doesn’t think things through. He tried climbing and jumping on a bunch of slippery and jagged rocks before figuring out maybe that was a terrible idea. To his credit, he never did it again and asked for help before scaling partially submerged rocks to jump off of.

Because Lynnette was not in the water, I was an acceptable option for Avery. She held my hand tightly as she waded through the water, sidestepping rocks in her path. Then, she also decided that the rocks must have been put there to jump off of because that’s how she spent the last 10 minutes of our stay. She took my hand, used it to balance as she slowly edged up a rock. She stopped for a brief moment at the top or flattest surface of the rock, as if to bask in self-satisfaction. Finally, she stepped off the rock into the water below. A giggle followed the splash every single time.

Today was our first visit to the beach in a while and even though it didn’t go as planned, I’m glad we finally broke the shutout streak. I asked Madison if she thought we could handle the twins at the beach by ourselves, without Lynnette. “I think we get ’em,” she said, like a true moke. “Oh, yeah?” “Yeah. I got Cole,” she said. I laughed. “Of course,” I said. Well. Let’s find out.

Cole and Avery and the Promise of Growth

After two or three soggy, gloomy, chilly weekends, the weather gods finally cooperated enough to allow us the chance to look for some new playgrounds this weekend. I’m going to post a few pictures of our adventures but write about some of the twins’ advances as they slowly transition from unruly tyrants to tiny humans.

img_7397Okay, but before anything else, I have to point out how Madison is becoming a moderately reliable photographer. You may have noticed that I am rarely in the pictures of our adventures. The reason is a practical one: I’m the one taking pictures. The twins can’t be trusted to hold or operate anything with a value over $.99. Madison is busy trying to get her play in. Lynnette is ever vigilant, her hawk eyes (framed by impeccable lashes, it must be said) are always on the lookout lest a single germ microbe get within 15 feet of Cole or Avery. But I’ve digressed.

Over the last two days, I’ve asked Madison to take pictures of Lynnette and I. Sometimes the twins are involved like above, but at other times, they end up like this:

img_7431I don’t know where she picked it up from, but Madison simply isn’t content to take our photos. She’ll pop a few tame ones, then start coaching Lynnette and me. She always always always tries to get pictures of us kissing and they always always always end up looking like this because the only thing that Lynnette hates more than germ microbes afflicted her children is my microbes afflicting her. When I handed Madison the camera today, she said “now drink each other’s champagne”. Not only did neither Lynnette nor I even ask how she even knows of such a concept – we actually did it! We interlocked arms and pantomimed drinking. I would have posted that picture but it was blurry. “Moderately reliable”, remember? Frickin’ Madison. She’s a clown.

img_7457On the playground, Cole’s become the family daredevil. Yesterday he climbed a curved ladder up to an upper level of the play structure as Mad and I cheered him on. In the past, he’d get two rungs up and ask us to help him down. On Saturday, he got halfway and stopped. “Do it!” I implored. “Go, Cole!” Madison cheered. And he kept going. When he got to the top, he stood, turned to us and shouted “DO IT!” Today when Lynnette, Madison, and I were occupied with Avery on the slide, Cole took it upon himself to climb a ladder to the highest part of the structure. I didn’t see him until he was 3/4 of the way up. I ran around the structure to get to him, and when I got there, he was mumbling “Do it, do it, do it” as he methodically moved his hands and feet onward. When he got to the plateau, he once again turned and screamed “DO IT!” This is the good stuff, man.

Avery, on the other hand is something of a playground chicken. Whenever she can see through the panels of the play structure, she’s reminded that she’s above ground. She reverts into a slow crawl to get to the stairs, then walks down. This is a truly surprising turn of events because Avery crawls on everything in the comfort of our home – and also other people’s homes. Apparently, she made it atop my parents’ counter using drawers and oven handles and sheer will. Maybe she’s a domestic climber.

Cole and Avery have also slowly earned some credit with me in the trust department. Both are less likely to dart off from the play area toward some wide open section of the park. This was always sort of Avery’s go-to move. A month or so ago, Cole because acting like one of those hunting dogs that point. If he saw Avery make a break for it, he’d point and shout “A-bree, A-bree!” in her direction. Yesterday, I saw him do something I’ve never seen him do before. As Avery jogged away from the play area, Cole took off after her. I expected him to grab her from behind as he’s done in the past, but this time, he pulled the Marlow-cutting-off-Kurtz-in-the-jungle and got in front of her. He pointed back to the play area. AND OH MY GOD, AVERY TURNED AND JOGGED BACK. I now know how all those scientists felt when the sharks in Deep Blue Sea swam backwards; when the raptors in Jurassic Park started opening doors; and when the one chimp started doing tricks for cigarettes in Project X.

img_7469img_7596Best of all, both Cole and Avery have shown that they can be trusted to walk with us without going rogue. We don’t even pack the double stroller in the van anymore. We still use the single stroller, but only to carry all of the bags. When we first tried it, both of the twins would often throw tantrums or want to walk only with Lynnette or eventually try to run off. This weekend, none of those things happened. Cole seems pretty good about walking with Mad or me, but Avery’s gotta walk with Mem.

They still don’t like leaving the playground, but can be lured away by the promise of snacks and water in the van. They still get distracted by things that catch their attention like Minnie Mouse balloons or in Cole’s case, shapes, numbers, and colors he recognizes. Overall, though, we’re so far from where we were just a couple of weeks ago when they’d both decide to turn into rocks and plop themselves down on the ground in protest of we never knew what. Lynnette still Ergos Avery sometimes, but it really depends on the Gravy Boat’s mood. Which, it should be said, is true of any women with Pascua blood coursing through her veins. I look at this picture here and laugh. She looks kind of dumpy, but that’s where she wanted to be. They were even pretty well-behaved at lunch. I’m so proud of how they acquitted themselves this weekend! I might survive them yet!